This article considers James Baldwin’s last published novel, Just Above My Head (1979),
as the culmination of his exploration of kinship, reflecting on the ways distance and loss
characterize African-American familial relations. By analyzing Baldwin’s representation of
Hall Montana’s relationship to, and mourning of, his younger brother Arthur, this article
argues that JAMH revises the terms of the black family to imagine an alternative, errant
kinship that is adoptive, migratory, and sustained through songs of joy and grief. My
approach to the novel’s portrayal of kinship is indebted to Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of
Relation (1990), in which he defines “errantry” as a fundamental characteristic of
diaspora that resists the claustrophobic, filial violence and territorial dispossession
that are slavery’s legacies. Baldwin represents errant kinship in JAMH through his
inclusion of music and formal experimentation. Departing from previous scholarship
that reads JAMH as emblematic of the author’s artistic decline, I interpret the
novel’s numerous syntactic and figurative experiments as offering new formal insight into
his portrait of brotherly love. Baldwin’s integration of two distinctive leitmotifs, blood
and song, is therefore read as a formal gesture toward a more capacious and migratory
Four Decisive Challenges Confronting Humanitarian Innovation
Gerard Finnigan and Otto Farkas
(accessed 20 October 2016) .
Oxfam America ( 2014 ), Oxfam Innovation Lab. An Idea: From Seed to
Scale , https://s3.amazonaws.com/oxfam-us/www/static/media/files/OUS.Innovation-brochure-singlePages_final_2.pdf
(accessed 20 October 2016) .
Parkes , C.
M. ( 2014 ), ‘ Responding to
Grief and Trauma in the Aftermath of
Drawing on a broad range of personal accounts, this is the first detailed study of siblinghood in wartime. The relative youth of the fighting men of the Great War intensified the emotional salience of sibling relationships. Long separations, trauma and bereavement tested sibling ties forged through shared childhoods, family practices, commitments and interests. We must not equate the absence of a verbal language of love with an absence of profound feelings. Quieter familial values of kindness, tolerance and unity, instilled by parents and reinforced by moral instruction, strengthened bonds between brothers and sisters. Examining the nexus of cultural and familial emotional norms, this study reveals the complex acts of mediation undertaken by siblings striving to reconcile conflicting obligations to society, the army and loved ones in families at home. Brothers enlisted and served together. Siblings witnessed departures and homecomings, shared family responsibilities, confided their anxieties and provided mutual support from a distance via letters and parcels. The strength soldier-brothers drew from each other came at an emotional cost to themselves and their comrades. The seismic casualties of the First World War proved a watershed moment in the culture of mourning and bereavement. Grief narratives reveal distinct patterns of mourning following the death of a loved sibling, suggesting a greater complexity to male grief than is often acknowledged. Surviving siblings acted as memory keepers, circumventing the anonymisation of the dead in public commemorations by restoring the particular war stories of their brothers.
, or in memoirs intended only for the eyes of family members and close friends. Photographs, personal belongings and war mementoes were kept in households. If, as Sarah Ahmed submits, family happiness can be both assembled and circulated through material objects, so surely can other intermingled familial emotions such as grief. 5 Private acts of remembrance strayed into the public sphere: through published memoirs and the display of material objects. Siblings created ‘verbal memorials’, permanent textual spaces, to honour their dead brothers, circumventing the
I often think about my brother William – Bill. He used to hold my hand when we went to school … It broke my heart when he died. I would have liked to have died with him – but I didn’t, and here I am today. 1
Interviewed in 2004, centenarian Fred Lloyd demonstrably missed the love shown him by his ‘giant’ of a brother, capturing the essence of their fraternal bond in the motif of a clasped hand. The potency of brotherly grief is found in such simple recollections, the inconsequential acts of remembered love that haunted some men. The accounts examined in
exacerbated by the sense that they alone, in the words of Vera Brittain, shared an ‘instinctive and entire’ understanding 31 – one that separated the contemporaries of this generation from their parents and children. Jack Foxell, writing to his brother after their sibling Edward’s death, was thankful for their mutual sharing of loss:
At first it seemed as if I were very much alone … But now I feel that it is our grief, not merely mine ; and, though that does not lessen the grief, there is yet comfort in the thought. 32 [Emphasis in original]
, though we have overlooked their emotions by focusing on the mourning of Hildeburh and the Geatish meowle . In the light of the great sorrow of the many men who participate in all four of the poem's funerals, it is clearly inaccurate to state that weeping is women's work in the poem. Nor is grief reserved for emasculated men. Beowulf himself experienced a great deal of sadness in his final days.
The news of his hall's burning by the dragon was ‘hreow on hreðre, hygesorga mæst’ (sorrow in his breast, greatest of heart
Emotional connections to the young hero in Beowulf
an emotional connection between Wiglaf and the poem's audience. As Wiglaf demonstrates loyalty to his lord, participates in battle, and then enacts a traditional and cross-cultural ritual of mourning, he completes his emotional growth and assumes the role of primary male and hero. Wiglaf's masculine appeal and social status are enhanced by his grief in such a way that his performance realigns the poem's definition of heroic masculinity away from military expertise and towards emotional association.
A review of the critical literature reveals
which they could describe the weight of personal loss sustained on the front line. Families at home could empathise, informed by their own anxiety and grief for loved ones.
Figure 5 ‘They died in each other’s arms’, Daily Mirror , 24 August 1916.
Early in the war, published memoirs contained horrifying accounts of sibling deaths. Kate Luard published her anonymous account of nursing on the Western Front in 1915. 35 The daughter of a vicar, Luard was an experienced military nurse, having served for two years during the South African War. Aged forty
Troubling race, ethnicity, and masculinity in Beowulf
Sometimes we find the deepest intimacy not in sex, friendship, communal joy, or grief, but in shared anxiety. It is a subtler, though no less powerful, kind of togetherness, communed less overtly through sideways glances, heavy silences, nervous laughter. As such, it subtends ‘emotional communities’ that are harder to trace in texts such as Beowulf , notorious for how opaque their emotional language has become to us.
Perceiving anxiety in others is difficult primarily because the people